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Clause 29

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 8th May 2008.

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Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 3:15 pm, 8th May 2008

Yes, I understand the logic in that, and the hon. Gentleman and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield have a point. However, we must ask where the principle is. I take the fact that there is a distinction; within homicide, the range is from whole life to 12 years, which is a big gap. That is also a huge difference. At the end of it, however, I think that I want to leave sentence to judges; I do not think that I want to involve juries.

One of the reasons that I do not want to involve juries is that one would get oneself into the world of unintended consequences. For example, juries are reluctant to convict in certain classes of offence because of the consequences to the defendant that they can envisage. Furthermore, if juries found it difficult to answer the question in the negative—is this a terrorist offence?—they might very well acquit in circumstances where they should not acquit.

I think that this matter is best left to judges. If there is to be further consultation, I am sure that members of this Committee would wish to reflect further on it, but I am very cautious about it.